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UWRF graduate joins World by Road expedition

May 8, 2009

UW-River Falls graduate Nels Thoreson is traveling around the world in a truck as part of the World by Road expedition. It is expected to take 26 months to complete.

The World by Road is an expedition where a group of selected individuals travel around the world by ground while promoting cultural awareness. Thoreson has been on the road for a little over three months.

“I was living with my brother, Neil, in a one bedroom apartment in Lakewood, Colo. I was on craigslist looking for some side work for my brother and stumbled upon the Web site,” Thoreson said. “I sent a whole bunch of information to the them, and got a response. I thought it was a joke, so I researched their endeavor, found it was legit, gave a four-day notice to where I was teaching Pre-K, and flew to Panama City, Panama.”

Thoreson graduated from UWRF in 2005 with a degree in political science and a minor in professional writing.

Before embarking to Panama City, he was located in Bailey, Colo., for a year teaching pre-kindergarten children.

The World by Road Exhibition was started by founding members Steve Shoppman and Steve Bouey out of a desire to learn more about the world and a want for travel. The expedition is unique. The notion to travel the world in two 4×4 trucks is highly ambitious. Planning is extensive and requires the team to have adequate health insurance, the proper forms to go in and out of some countries, competent skills in first aid and a willingness to cope with the language barrier.

“The language barrier is such a hard thing to overcome. I wish I would have been fluent to be able to communicate to the people in their language, and to totally get immersed in their culture,” Thoreson said.

Some of the costs of the expedition are alleviated by numerous sponsors, the most notable of which is Toyota.

The group initially was sponsored by Denver-based Stevinson who supplied them with two similar model trucks. However, shortly afterward, they were contacted by the regional representatives who eventually outfitted them with a then-unreleased design of the Toyota Tundra, making the participants of the World by Road Exhibition some of the first people to drive the vehicle.

The Exhibition is currently located in Denver and will be heading north towards Alaska before making its way across Canada and eventually ending up in New York City.

They actively record their expedition and have plans to release a documentary and as a book.

Interest has been shown in doing a “I just feel very fortunate for this nationwide campus tour to talk great opportunity. I think something about the experience.

Brent Greene, director of Global Connections at UWRF, while not directly involved in the World by Road Exhibition, showed interest in the endeavor and said he hopes that should the group do a campus tour that Thoreson’s will come visit his old college. According to Greene, the ultimate endeavor of the exhibition is in line with the mission of the department and hopes their exuberance will inspire students to pursue abroad travels themselves.

Thus far, Thoreson has traveled through several countries in Central America and is enjoying it.

“I just feel very fortunate for this great opportunity. I think something like this comes once in a lifetime, Thoreson said. “I am forever grateful for all the support, with many of those people living in Wisconsin.”